Medicare phone scam hits Hilton Head

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Medicare phone scam hits Hilton Head

By TOM BARTON
tbarton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2012   |  411 Words  |  

A Hilton Head Island couple has joined AARP in sounding the alarm on a new Medicare phone scam being reported throughout South Carolina and the country.

Carol Malick said she received a call Friday from a woman with an accent, who called her by name and said the call was in reference to her Medicare card.

Malick said the woman wanted to send her a new card and had her name, address and phone number, but needed to know the name of the bank where her Social Security checks were deposited.

"When I told her, she had the bank routing number but said she needed my bank account number," Malick said. "Fortunately, I didn't do that. When I wouldn't give her the information, she became very ugly. Eventually, I just hung up."

She said that on Monday she contacted her bank, which told her anyone can search for the bank's routing number online, but the number is useless without an account number.

"Had I given her the other numbers, that would have identified my checking account, which would have been awful," Malick said. "I called Medicare this morning and alerted them. People need to be warned. I'd hate for someone to fall victim to this scam."

She said the call came from a Beaumont, Texas, number -- 409-574-1214. A Google search of the phone number shows numerous complaints against it from across the country for "phishing," or probing for personal information.

AARP South Carolina sent an alert last month via Twitter, saying "Scams are starting: SC callers report phishing calls from 409-574-1214 about new Medicare cards. It is fraud and protect your ID!"

Lt. Glenn Zanelotti with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said it is important to never give out banking or tax-related information over the phone and to always ask callers where they are calling from and their identity.

"That way you can double-check with your banking institution or local or state Medicare office," Zanelotti said.

In marketing their plans and obtaining enrollment information, Medicare officials are not allowed to ask for Social Security, bank account numbers or credit card information, according to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Medicare also does not make uninvited home visits or call to sell drug or health plans.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.